Gerry Halpin MBE PPMAFA
Gerry Halpin MBE PPMAFA lives and works in Greater Manchester.
Gerry Halpin was appointed MBE in the New Years Honours List of 2009 for Services to Arts and Charity. Gerry was presented with the award by H.M. Queen Elizabeth on the 11th March 2009
Gerry Halpin was the President of Manchester Academy of Fine Arts between 2015 and 2019
It was said that the invention of photography would herald the end of painting, but no, it was embraced by artists as a means of exploring the world and of seeing it differently.
My own painting has benefited from technological innovation and has given me an opportunity to examine and paint the landscape from an altogether different perspective than that of looking from the more familiar ground level position. After flying off on holiday, I began to recognise the possibilities of recording what I could see of the world below me, of the marvellous interactions that could be observed of various geographical features, some natural and others reshaped by the demands of civilisations, past and present. Although the landscape seen from above appears to be two dimensional, I needed to respond to its three-dimensional truth and this required thought on the manner of painting. Applying the paint with texture was the key.
The late Peggy Guggenheim in her autobiography, ‘OUT OF THIS CENTURY’, made the observation when flying back from San Francisco that “the landscape below was amazing, better than any painting”.
Initially I used acrylic paint, adding polymer texture paste to the paint and sometimes Liquitex modelling paste direct to the canvas prior to painting. Now I also work with oil paint, applied with a palette knife in quite thick passages, overlaid on the initial thin underpainting.
Inspiration comes primarily from coastal landscapes, where the sea either dramatically crashes onto the rocky shores or gently ebbs away over sand. Evidence of the intrusion of human habitation on the landscape often adds hard edge shapes to an otherwise gentler blend of forms. Colour can be tonally subtle or richly dense where the aerial view appears to compact the flattened image.
Natural and man-made marks in the landscape are also essential elements in my paintings, a kind of personal iconography created by gouging into the wet paint, adding further to the notion of contour and a more interpretive re-presentation of physical reality.
As a consequence of the Coronavirus pandemic, my daily walks during ‘lockdown’ enabled me to appreciate a new awareness of the landscape whilst being ‘in’ it at ground level rather than being above it. This new way of seeing has initiated an intuitive and expressive rather than descriptive response to the colours, shapes and textures that I encountered around me.
Fields, roads, rivers, hedges and woodland were reduced to areas of space within the painting, responding to the act of passing through the landscape rather than isolating a specific view. My intention was to engage with and record the sensation of the walk rather than it being determined by details, which I felt would be a limiting factor in my final painting.
Paring back, simplifying down to compositional verticals or horizontals of knifed on related colour, cut through suggestive of the journey, with enigmatic focal points representing pools, bushes, gates or buildings, is the intention of my present painting.
Rarely have I needed to consider sky as part of my painting, having usually taken an aerial view, but recent studies of moorland subjects have encouraged an interest in the sky and the dynamic it adds to the painting. That, and the challenge of a wet in wet technique, as well as becoming more focused on the simple features of the moorland, trees, walls, posts etc, has broadened the approach to my practice.
Exhibitions and Notable Highlights
Appointed MBE New Years Honours List 2009 for Services to Arts and Charity. Presented by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II March 2009
President of Manchester Academy of Fine Arts 2015 - 19
Royal Institute of Oil Painters - Mall Gallery London, Annually since 2013
Winner of the Menena Joy Schwabe Memorial Award for an Outstanding Artist – ROI 2014
Royal Society of Marine Artists, Mall Gallery London
Royal Society of Watercolour Painters, Mall Gallery London
Blackburn City Art Gallery (Painting purchased for the permanent collection)
Stockport War Memorial Art Gallery
The Station Gallery, Richmond, North Yorkshire
The Portico Library and Gallery Manchester
Bury Art Gallery
The Chapel Gallery, Ormskirk, Lancashire – West Lancashire Open Exhibition (Frequently shown and Highly Commended)
Dean Clough Gallery, Halifax
The Atkinson Gallery, Southport